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Mull, Sound of

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2020.

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Mull, Sound of, the boomerang-shaped belt of sea separating the island of Mull from the Scottish mainland, is identical in the N with the lower part of Loch Sunart, and in the S with the upper part of the Firth of Lorn. Sometimes it is regarded as stretching between, but excluding these. In this more limited sense, the sound stretches from the headlands of Bloody Bay on the NW, to Duart Point on the SE of Mull, a distance of 19 miles. Along its length it is flanked only by Morven on the mainland side; varies from 11 furlongs to 3¼ miles in breadth; and has only 5 or 6 inconsiderable inlets, of which Loch Aline in Morven, and the Bays of Salen and Tobermory in Mull, are the chief. In the larger signification the name is extended to include the channel stretching beyond Duart Point to the headlands of Loch Buy and the northern point of Seil island-in all, a total length of 36 miles. This has occasionally a breadth of 8 to 10 miles, and embraces Kerrera and the smaller islands; and is flanked on the S by Mid and Nether Lorn. The Sound of Mull is deep, but navigation is difficult from the meeting of the tides and the fierce gusts which sweep down from the high hills on either side. The scenery is very beautiful and varied; and along its shores rise the picturesque and often striking ruins of old Highland towers and keeps, such as Duart, Artornish, and Aros. The opening and much of the scene of Sir Walter Scott's Lord of the Isles is laid on the Sound of Mull. He refers to the difficulty of navigation in the passage:

'With eve the ebbing currents boiled
More fierce from strait and lake,
And midway through the channel met
Conflicting tides that foam and fret,
And high their mingled billows jet,
As spears that, in the battle set,
Spring upward as they break.'

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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